Adding Videos and Stills and Changing Their Properties

This is the exciting part of DVD production. You have various types of media in hand and are ready to pull them all together to draw your videos, photos, narration, and music into a cohesive whole.

Task: Take a Dry Run

Before you start adding videos and other media to your project, give one of your videos a dry run. This will give you a feel for how to manipulate videos within the authoring software. Follow these steps:

  1. Open DVDit! to a new project.

  2. Click the media button at the bottom of the Theme column. I've highlighted it in Figure 22.4. You should see thumbnails of all your media files.

    Figure 22.4. Clicking the filmstrip icon opens the folder holding your media files.

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  3. Right-click a thumbnail image and select Play. As I've illustrated in Figure 22.5, if you've selected a video, it'll play in the large playback window. A still image will display for five seconds, and an audio file will run with no animation.

    Figure 22.5. Videos and stills display on the main playback screen. Two other interface sections?Placeholder windows and Files?make it easy to access media, menus, buttons, and text.

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  4. To stop any playback, right-click the thumbnail again and select Stop.

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    You also can use the large playback window controls to manipulate media. However, these controls are rudimentary at best.

    DVDit! does not have controls that "fast forward," "rewind," or automatically return the cursor to the beginning.

    Also, you can't "scrub" or search through a video?watching the images flash by as you slide the cursor. Instead, if you're looking for a particular scene, you need to move the cursor to an approximate location in the clip and release the mouse button. Then take a look at what pops on the screen and adjust your location accordingly.


  5. You can use your video's timecode as a means to move to a specific scene. The timecode window, shown in Figure 22.6, is below the silver Movie/Menu button at the lower-right corner of the video playback window. Clicking the Play button will start the video at that point.

    Figure 22.6. Type in a timecode to jump directly to a scene in your video.

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Notice that the timecode window has a small silver button with the letter T. If this were a full retail DVDit! product, you could click that button to bring up the letter C for "chapters." However, the Chapters function is disabled in this LE version of DVDit!


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One final item about the video playback window?you can adjust the timeline interval display. The default is to display the timeline for the entire length of the selected video. The longer the video, the more time interval hash marks displayed and the closer they are together. You can expand or contract those hash mark spacings by clicking the small or large "mountains" above the Play button shown in Figure 22.7.

Figure 22.7. Clicking the small or large "mountain" icon changes the time interval hash marks on the timeline.

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This will "stretch" your timeline, changing its scale by increasing the spacing between the hash marks. This works much the same as clicking the plus or minus sign in Premiere's Timeline window.

In DVDit!, this is an inexact process because DVDit! does not indicate how much time each hash mark represents. Nevertheless, spreading out the hash marks makes it easier to find the frame you're looking for.


Adding Videos?First Play

As part of your project planning you decide what you want viewers to see the moment after they pop your DVD in their drive?the so-called "first play." In Hour 21, "Designing Your DVD Project and Creating Menus," you used a menu. But a brief introductory video can be much more effective.

Your "first play" can be a video, an image, or a menu. If it's a video (or an image), you can design your project to play through it to its conclusion and then display the opening menu. Some producers creating copyrighted material open with one of those ubiquitous and oft-ignored standard FBI warnings before jumping to a video or menu.

Task: Add a Video (or Still Image) to First Play

Because a bit of action off the top is almost always a good thing, using a video in First Play window is something you'll do often. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open DVDit! to a new project. In the main interface, click the silver button I've highlighted in Figure 22.8 at the bottom-right corner of the viewing screen, and then select Movies. In the column to the right of the viewing screen you'll see a small window at the top labeled First Play, as well as one below it labeled Movie 1.

    Figure 22.8. Select Movie from this drop-down menu to display movie placeholder screens.

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  2. Click the media button (that little filmstrip icon) below the Theme window to display your media clips.

  3. Select the video file you want for your first play and drag it to the First Play window. You'll notice that your video thumbnail image will show up not only in the First Play window but in the Movie 1 window as well. This simplifies matters if later you want to link a menu button to that movie.

  4. If you need to add audio?for instance, music or narration?select and drag an audio file to the First Play window.

  5. If instead you want to start your DVD with a still image, open the media file folder by clicking the filmstrip icon under the Theme column; then drag and drop your image file to the First Play window (it displays there, plus DVDit! automatically assigns it to its own movie placeholder window).

  6. DVDit! automatically sets the duration of that image display to five seconds. To change that length, right-click the placeholder window and select Properties. That brings up the Movie Properties dialog box shown in Figure 22.9. Change the Duration setting to suit your needs.

    Figure 22.9. Use the Duration field in the Movie Properties dialog box to change the default five-second still image display length.

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  7. You also may add audio to this image by dragging an audio clip to the First Play window or its movie placeholder screen. Adding audio changes the duration that image will display from its default value of five seconds to the length of the audio clip.

  8. You can "loop" the audio clip?that is, make it play over and over until the viewer takes some action such as clicking the "next" button on the remote control. Here's how:

    • Right-click its movie window placeholder and select Properties.

    • Click the arrow on the End Action scroll-down menu at the bottom of the Movie Properties dialog box, shown in Figure 22.10, and select Loop.

      Figure 22.10. Selecting Loop in the Movie Properties dialog box means your audio will keep playing until the viewer clicks the Menu or Next button on the remote.

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If you have a still image that you want to use, both as part of your DVD program and as a menu background, there is no need for you to copy/paste it into both the Background and Media file folder directories. Simply store it in the Media folder and drag it to a menu or movie placeholder screen.


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DVDit! LE works with only two audio file types: WAV and MPEG-1 Layer II. When you create MPEG-2 files using the Adobe MPEG Encoder and stick with the default elementary streams, the Encoder creates separate MPEG-2 video and WAV audio files. When you finally tell DVDit! to burn a DVD, no matter what frequency the WAV files are set to, DVDit! converts all audio to 48 KHz PCM audio.


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Sonic's retail DVDit! products let you add audio to menus. The LE version does not. This points out the multitiered approach to DVD authoring used by Sonic and other DVD-authoring software companies. As you step up to higher priced products, you'll gain options such as animated menus that incorporate moving graphics or videos, plus sound, multiple audio tracks, a wide-screen format, subtitles, and more. I'll go over what higher-priced authoring products can do for you in Hour 23, "Enhanced DVD Authoring."


Adding More Videos and Still Images

Once you've created a first play, you'll find it's fairly easy to bring in the rest of the videos and stills you plan to include in your DVD project.

Simply open the Movie column (clicking the silver button at the lower-right corner of the display window and switching to Movies), open the Media palette, and then drag and drop your videos one by one into individual movie windows. You'll note that after you drag a video clip to a movie window placeholder, DVDit! automatically creates a new, empty movie screen placeholder for your next video or still.

DVDit! uses a default movie/image placeholder naming convention, simply referring to each added media file as Movie 1, Movie 2, Movie 3, and so on. This can be a bit confusing because your original media file names probably will be different.

If your project includes a couple dozen image, video, and audio files, using distinctive and logical placeholder naming conventions will help you keep things straight. Here's how to do that:

  1. Click the movie name beneath the placeholder window (for example, Movie 1).

  2. Note that the name becomes highlighted in yellow.

  3. Type in the name you prefer and press the Enter.

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You'll note several other options in the Movie Properties dialog box. I'll explain them later in Changing Movie, Image, and Menu Properties.


The Peoria Hockey Mites on DVD

When the members of the Peoria, Arizona, Junior Polar Bears hockey team gathered for their season-ending party, there was something unexpected awaiting them. The group of eight-to-ten year olds and their families had gathered at the one home with the largest TV screen and viewing area. What they saw "surprised and amazed them," says team historian Ed Loeffler.

Loeffler popped in a DVD and for the next two hours the gathered families clicked back and forth through menus and videos, reliving the highlights of their travels all around the Southwest (see Figure 22.11). "They loved it," Loeffler says.

Figure 22.11. Loeffler's opening menu organizes the season by each road trip.

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When completed, Loeffler handed out 25 copies of that DVD, giving each family "a lifetime of memories," he says. "I saw joy on each person's face."

Those DVDs, made with Sonic DVDit!, are the perfect vehicle for preserving experiences and sharing them with everyone who cares about the team. "More than just hockey, the DVD was about the whole experience we had together: the parents, the kids, and what we did all season."

The project is a distillation of DV and 3000 (!) digital photos Loeffler took of the team. Loeffler used DVDit! to define menus for quick access to the individual clips and to burn the actual DVDs on his DVD drive (see Figure 22.12). "Authoring with DVDit! was all very straightforward and easy," he says.

Figure 22.12. Loeffler used photos to create menus.

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Loeffler's already making plans for next year. He wants to step up to a full-featured authoring product such as Sonic DVD Producer that lets him create animated menus and buttons, work in Dolby audio, and use wide-screen features. "It's addictive," he says. "I want to do it even better next time."

Ed Loeffler and his eight-year old hockey-playing son, Taylor.

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